Deeper and older

We are making steady progress deepening this site and we are now running rotary core barrels (RCB) now that the formation has become harder if not actually hard stone just yet. As important as how deep is how old and the pressure to tell us this lies largely with the micropaleontologists who spend their days sitting in front of microscopes looking for the critical fossils that will tell us the depositional age. Here we see Renata Nagai looking for planktonic foraminifera in the core catcher samples that have just come off the catwalk fresh from the drill floor. Renata is onboard representing Brazil, a relative new comer to the IODP family and she will be working on the history of biologic productivity and surface water circulation in the recent geological past when we she goes home. Today however she is dating the sediments as they come up, and is usually seeing material that the rest of the lab will not see for more than a day because most core description is constantly playing catch-up with the paleontologists and geochemists who are working at the cutting edge. Sedimentation has been rather faster than we had figured at the beginning but unless we are totally wrong about the basalt age here this rate must decrease a little as we go ever downwards.